I have read but a little Samuel Beckett- one play and a novel but his persona I find intriguing and his clearly having studied Joyce interests as well. I found a tome-like collection of his poetry second hand and have been looking at some of his translations from French. He translated Rimbaud, Breton and the surrealist poet, Paul Eluard. I notice that a collection of the latter’s poetry is soon to be published in both French and English. Beckett also translated a poem called “Delta” from Italian by Eugenio Montale. Beckett too wrote fluently in French and demonstrates his fascination for arcane usage. Here is an example-
C’est toi, o beauté blême des subtiles concierges,
La Chose kantienne, l’icone bilitique;
C’est toi, muette énigme des aphasiques vierges,
Qui centres mes désirs d’un trait antithétique.
O mystique carquois! O flèches de Télèphe!
Correlatif de toi! Abîme et dure sonde!
Sois éternellement le greffé et la greffe,
Ma superfétatoire et frêle furibonde!
Ultime coquillage et palais de la bouche
Mallarméenne et emblème de Michel-Ange,
Consume-toi, o neutre, en extases farouches,
Barbouille-toi, bigène, de crispations de fange,
Et co-ordonne enfin, lacustre conifère,
Tes tensions ambigues de crête et de cratère.
Using Google Translate and adjusting this curious poem reads-
It is you, o pallid beauty of the subtle concierges, The Kantian Thing, the bilious icon; It is you, mute enigma of aphasic virgins, Who centers my desires with an antithetical trait.
O mystical quiver! O arrows of Telephus! Correlative of you! Abyss and hard probe! Be eternally the grafted and the graft, My superfluous and frail furious!
Ultimate shell and palate of the Mallarméan mouth and emblem of Michelangelo, Consume yourself, o neutral, in fierce ecstasies, Smear yourself, bigène, with mire contractions,
And finally coordinates, coniferous lacustrine, Your ambiguous tensions of ridge and crater.
Essentially this seems difficult although each stanza has a cluster of meaningful concerns. There are many fascinating words with allusions to place names and classical studies. The imperious voice of the poem marked by imperatives is not without a comic undertone or so it seems to me. It has made me aware of Beckett’s command of the French language and his dreamlike imagery.